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Ajagba’s Olympics defeat painful, says Okorodudu

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Building for tomorrow….Young boxers fighting for tickets to enable them make the GOtv Boxing NextGen Search 2 yesterday at the Lagos Boxing Hall of Fame Gym, 65 Olatilewa Street, Off Lawanson Road, Surulere, Lagos.

Building for tomorrow….Young boxers fighting for tickets to enable them make the GOtv Boxing NextGen Search 2 yesterday at the Lagos Boxing Hall of Fame Gym, 65 Olatilewa Street, Off Lawanson Road, Surulere, Lagos.

• 100 pugilists appear for GOtv Boxing NextGen Search 2 

Ex-Olympian, Jeremiah Okorodudu has described the quarterfinal exit by Team Nigeria’s only boxer at the 2016 Rio Olympics, Efe Ajagba as painful. He says the defeat could have been avoided, if Ajagba had enjoyed good preparations like his counterparts from other countries for the Games.

Ajagba had his Olympics dream cut short on Tuesday night in the hands of Kazakhstan’s Ivan Dychko in the quarterfinal, losing in a unanimous decision 9-10, 9-10, 10-9. Dychko is the world number two rated pugilist.

Speaking with The Guardian yesterday in Lagos during the unveiling of boxers for GOtv Boxing NextGen 2, Okorodudu said that ‘everything’ worked against Ajagba in the quarterfinal because his opponent, Dychko, enjoyed ‘certain things’ from the world boxing governing body.

“I watched the fight and midway into the second round, I knew it was all over for Ajagba,” Okorodudu said. “Efe is a fantastic boxer and I am happy he was able to prove his mettle in Rio, but in this game of boxing, there are some things people outside there may find difficult to understand. The Kazakhstani boxer has won the AIBA world championship title two times and he is appearing in the Olympics for the third time.

For a boxer like Ajagba, who has not won a world championship medal and is appearing in the Olympics for the first time to win that fight, he ought to knock Dychko down. AIBA will always protect their own, and that was what happened. If you watch that fight, there was a time Ajagba scored some vital points but the referee pretended as if he did not see the action. That is why we always advocate for long time planning for the Olympics.

“Ajagba could not attend the world championships last year, because there was no money. If he were there, perhaps, he would have been used to some of these tricks in boxing. I just hope our people have learnt some bitter lessions from this. Now, there is need for Nigeria to have referee/judges courses to be supervised by experts from other countries. We need to start immediately for the next Olympics,” Okorodudu stated.

Meanwhile, organisers of GOtv Boxing NextGen Search commenced the journey for the second edition of the event by screening the boxers in Lagos yesterday.About 100 boxers turned up for the exercise, which opened at the Lagos Boxing Hall of Fame Gym.

The initiative, conceived to raise new generation of young and talented professional boxers, featured sparring sessions by selected boxers.In attendance were officials of the Nigerian Boxing Board of Control (NBBC of C), Lagos Boxing Hall of Fame, both partners, and the sponsors represented by Ms. Efe Obiomah and Johnson Ivoseh, GOtv Public Relations Manager and Marketing Manager respectively.

Also present were boxing coaches Obisia Nwakpa, Joe Mensah and Jerry Okorodudu, who supervised the sparring sessions. Speaking at the event, the CEO of Flykite Promotions, Jenkins Alumona said the partnership between GOtv and boxing is aimed at raising the standards of the sport locally.

“At the first edition, we had plenty of boxers from around the country, an indication that boxing has regained its footing. We are happy at the turnout on the opening day, which offers a further proof of the sport’s revival. Within a few years, Nigeria should be able to produce elite-class boxers. That is the aim of this enterprise,” he said.

General Secretary of the NBB of C, Remi Aboderin, praised the sponsors for reviving professional boxing in the country. “We all know that without GOtv, we would not have professional boxing as we currently do in Nigeria. Their support has been immense and we at the NBB of C are grateful for that,” said Aboderin.

Obiomah explained that GOtv would continue to support Nigerian boxing and make it stronger.The sparring session continues Thursday. Selected boxers, whose professional licences will be paid for by the sponsors, will be announced tomorrow.


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